A plant scientist from Durham University wins North West regional heat

A plant scientist from Durham University has won the North West regional heat of FameLab UK 2012, the competition to find the new voices of science communication.

Mags Pullen had just three minutes to pitch a complex scientific idea to the panel of judges, which included writer and comedian Timandra Harkness, Manchester Science Festival Director, Natalie Ireland and Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustics at the University of Salford, broadcaster and previous FameLab finalist.

Covering topics such as the science of x-men, the eye and wiggly gut worms, thirteen budding communicators from across the North took part in the competition held at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester on December 3rd.

Mags, a post-doctoral research associate in Durham’s School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, wowed the judges with her two presentations, one on how plants know how they’ve been touched and the other on ‘anti-freeze’ in cabbages. Mags wins a place at the UK Grand Final, to be held at the Royal Institution on 21 March 2012. The winner will receive £1000 for themselves and up to £750 to spend on a science communication activity, whether it’s attending a conference, further training or developing a public event or activity.

To prepare her for the final, Mags will join contestants from across the UK at a weekend MasterClass with Professor of Science and Society and Science communication, Kathy Sykes, and experienced trainer, specialising in media & communication skills, Malcolm Love.
Past winners of FameLab have gone on to travel the globe, perform in festivals and feature on national TV and radio, and many combine public-facing activity with ongoing research. All finalists become part of a global network of science communicators.
Mags said: “I feel like I’ve already gained such a lot from participating in Famelab. Talking to a non-specialist audience has put me back in touch with what made me excited about science in the first place. I’m thrilled to be through to the final!”.

Natalie Ireland, judging the event, said: “The quality of applicants was brilliant. I was thoroughly entertained, wowed and engaged with brilliant science all day. It made the judging really tough, but Mags shone through with her unique style and physical presentation! It was also a great chance to spot some up-and-coming local science communication talent. Good luck to Mags in the final!”

Iain Morley of MOSI added “It was great to host this event at MOSI and see that there are some very talented science communicators out there.”